May 21, 2008 A.D.
I just excavated a stack of rejection letters from 2005-06, accompanied by that odd species named "encouraging rejections," sprinkled with a few acceptances. These were for short stories. My desk, if I could encase it in a block of lucite and make a giant paperweight, might look like George Jetson's desk if he were a slob. Lots of horizontal on various planes. With massive effort I can clean it, but then six months later, I am back where I started. I have read books on organization and even hired a professional organizer who came over and helped me sort out papers, to the tune of $75 an hour. So now I am a quasi-decent filer and shredder of papers, but I've got books and bills and ill-fitting replacement parts for various half-working electronic gadgets. Oh the books.
I just read Robert Conot's biography of Thomas Edison, "A Streak of Luck," which was published in 1979. It moves swiftly, is written well, is concise, and most importantly, it clearly and pleasantly explains his experiments and inventions in language that a Luddite could understand. There are parallels between the rapid trial-and-error atmosphere in which Edison and his fellow electricians were competing, and the current tech industry. I've spoken with some of these Silicon Valley guys. I had this idea to attach video game controllers to one's elbows, feet, knees, feet, hips, hands, etc., and a user would have the ability to interact with his game of choice. This was about 9 months before the Wii emerged. Anyway, I had a nice meeting with a Silicon Valley inventor/genius who has sold hardware and software to the big companies. It's funny when someone is interested in what you have to say: they're looking around, glancing at email, then they focus. Maybe it's the feeling that a book might have when a reader gets hooked. This guy and I talked for three hours. He laid out a roadmap of how to proceed. Then he pointed out that at the exact moment, all around the world, ten or twelve teams of inventors were in all likelihood working on the same idea. Considering that I can barely work my way around Vista, that my iPod has been jammed for two months, that I have two computer printers hooked up so that the odds might be high that at least one of them will be functioning when I hit "print," and most significantly, as the Voice of Reason and Love (my wife) has gently urged at various times, "You have enough going on with the things that you're good at." These would be writing, real estate (my day job), and fambly life. I prefer the word "fambly." I prefer "diary" to "blog."
So, these invention/internet/software/hardware guys and women have ghosts looking over their shoulders, and it's not the oldsters of Fairchild Semiconductor. The ghosts are Edison, Tesla, Marconi, and hundreds of their compatriots. I wonder what they read.